Shut Up, and Listen

Did you remember to open your eyes, and un-wax your ears when you woke this morning?
Did you take for granted the cozy 500-thread count sheets, and the down pillows propped under your head?
Did you have a proper bed to sleep in with too many pretty, pleasing greige throw pillows absentmindedly tossed on the floor beside the bed?

Remember to take the ten seconds to make your bed after you wake, tugging tight and pulling firm, preparing for your return and the blissful evening slumber, exhausted after the long, busy and productive day.

“It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.”- Zig Ziglar

When your manicured naked feet hit the floor be grateful there is cool, solid wood waiting to greet them, not meager pebbles and soot.
As you sip water from the glass set on the nightstand, be mindful when you swallow the refreshing pure, clear liquid H20. The unmuddied, non-polluted fresh from the well, clean tap water is the god given right humans should have.
No, not everyone is as lucky as you or I, not everyone has the luxury.

“783 million people do not have access to clean water,” and that is a number I cannot comprehend.

If I were the daughter of a carpenter who did not dwell in an ostentatious trump tower or sit on a gilded gold throne would you still love me anyway?
Would you respect me if I were the daughter of a simple lady?

To be the beloved daughter of the hard working, middle class and the immigrants who bravely came before them is my proud legacy.

My father is not here to save me now, but his good, kind exemplary life lives in my heart and is carried in my soul. Thank you, Daddy, for being an honorable man, a man of dignity and respect, a man who did not judge color, creed, wealth or circumstance. Thank you for being a simple, humble man who smiled upon waking, who shook the common folk’s hand.

Thank you, Daddy, for telling me I was perfectly imperfect, smart, pretty and capable of ANYTHING even when I felt less than. You were a man of your word, and the gold that ran through your veins threading into mine gave me the strength to believe in my convictions, to shut up and listen.

I learned to look strangers in the eye, greeting them with a nod, a smile, and a firm handshake. My foundation is solid, even as the tears I weep for mankind fall onto my pillowcase.

Empathy is not a sign of weakness, but a beautiful display of courage and range of compassion.

I learned listening is my greatest asset. Thank you for giving me a voice that is proud, and sometimes a little too loud with its very own opinion.
I can think for myself.
I will fight for the underprivileged, African Americans, LGBT’s, Latinos, Muslim’s, the disabled, poor, and all women because I do not see them any different than I.

Thank you, Daddy, for giving away your dollars as I watched, the little girl in love with your generosity. I understood faith meant more than fear, and even though I would sometimes forget over the years making foolish mistakes, your stellar example has always led me back to simple, honest living.

So, shut up and listen.

Do not mistake simplicity for ignorance.
Do not mistake kindness for complacency.
Do not mistake tolerance for blind acceptance.

Put away your damn cell phones, and look around. Find the joy in your little piece of the world and start a conversation with a stranger. Act like a good, solid man while standing tall as a woman. Fight for your rights, wisely and with conviction.

I love the way the sun shines golden after the rain, and the mist fills the air, cold and inviting. The wet leaves remind me I am awake, and the tears I weep for the country I love are not tears of defeat, but wells of sorrow.

As I look up to the sky and the ominous dark clouds rolling in, I notice water dripping from the telephone lines. The wires got crossed and mangled; there is no electricity or lines of communication. I will find some other way to send this message across continents to another little girl who is scared, wet, thirsty and starving staring up at the clouds. We are, her and I, alive under the same glorious, blue-skied heaven. She, like me, is missing a home, her father and the love of one good, honest man.

Liars and thieves have no place here, innuendo, and greed do not rule my home, but she is always welcome.

Steel fortresses crumble, and charlatans come and go.

So, shut up and listen misinformed. Someday soon she and I will revel in the beauty that remains on God’s good earth while glancing at the stars under the same midnight sky, dreaming of a better and more plentiful life. She and I will come and go, just like our fathers before us, but love, respect, and honor are solid like the uncomfortable ground she sleeps on and never complains.

Hush child, together we will find our way out of the dark and back into the golden light of a warm, forgiving, balanced sunshine.

Shh, shut up and listen.

There is no place for arrogance on this earth, no place for greed, and we are running out of time to replenish the wells.

Humanity must win as it has in centuries past, and it will most assuredly again. Until then, do not be afraid to use your voice, and to speak out against injustice.

Telephone lines and paper airplanes carry messages of hope even millions of miles from this place.

This planet belongs to no one, and to everyone. Hate has no place here, so please look away from your insular life and do something wise, something generous, even something kind.

People are suffering on the inside, and millions are without shelter, a united nation, and a place of pride to call home.

Photo Credit: stevendepolo Flickr via Compfight cc

Jacqueline Cioffa

A retired, international model, and celebrity makeup artist. Co-Author of Model Citi Zen, the guide. Founder of Author of numerous prose pieces in various literary magazines. Most recently published in Little Episodes Brainstorms the anthology, among esteemed artists Sadie Frost, Melvin Burgess and Todd Swift.

  1. Jacqueline Cioffa


    I wrote this essay days before Sabado Gigante was published. I was so moved by your words, your deep bond and love for your father. The piece stayed with me. Yes, Daddies like ours can be incredible role models. I need to believe goodness exists in this fucked up world, and that we can move mountains. We are stronger together, and I’m grateful for your friendship.


  2. Jacqueline Cioffa

    Dear John,

    I am certain your children are blessed with a kind, strong man as their role model. I read your posts, your passion, drive and integrity are inspiring. You are a wonderful person, and I am honored to know you. Your kids are lucky!!!

    Thank you, let’s keep stomping out hate.

    X Jackie

  3. Jacqueline Cioffa


    You are so precious, and beautiful. I learn from your example of strength, humor and all the beautiful qualities you possess. You’re right, we take for granted so many things and maybe that’s human nature. But to really live compassion when hate is all around, that’s the challenge. I’m working on it.

    xo. J

  4. Jacqueline Cioffa


    Thank you for taking the time to read this, and shedding a tear (hopefully not on your clean clothes 🙂 Your tender words restore my faith in humanity.
    Mostly, thank you for caring and recognizing a fellow, good man.
    I was blessed and try to follow his lead, especially in these times of turmoil.
    Also, I bet you’ll be a stellar dad.

    X Jackie

  5. Richard Defino

    Jackie, in sitting in my local laundry mat with tears in my eyes. This was absolutely beautiful and what a great reminder to not take the simple things in life for granted. Your father sounds like the kind of man that I want to be for my children, when that time comes.

    Thank you for writing this.

  6. Stephanie Ortez

    Jackie, this is stunning. We take so many things for granted, but we are here alive and loved. Is there anything more precious than that? Your words flow like a healing balm my friend, thank you for sharing it with us.

  7. John Michael Antonio
    John Michael Antonio

    Outstanding as always Jackie. Your father is an example of the kind of man I try to be with my children. I am moved to tears right now. Thank you so much for sharing this with us my friend .

  8. doriowen

    Oh, Jackie, this is so thoughtful and so beautiful. “and even though I would sometimes forget over the years making foolish mistakes, your stellar example has always led me back to simple, honest living.” Yes, Daddies can be incredible role models. You know mine was much like yours. Humble men move mountains of compassion and love. I’m sure I’ll be re-reading this a few more times. xoD.

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